Buying Jewelry

When you’re in the market for a piece of jewelry, compare quality, price, and service from several different retailers. Consider asking family members, friends, or co-workers for recommendations. If you’re unfamiliar with a seller, check its reputation by doing an online search. Enter the seller’s name and the words “complaint” or “review” in a search engine.

When shopping, ask your salesperson to write down any information you might rely on to make your purchase. And before you plunk down your money, ask for the store's refund and return policy.

Think Before You Shop

When considering a major purchase like a piece of jewelry, it’s best to make a few decisions before you begin shopping. What’s your budget? Do you want a certain type of metal or stone? Or a certain brand name? If you decide what’s important to you up-front, you’re less likely to make an impulse purchase that could lead to buyer’s remorse.

Get to know the common phrases and markings used to describe jewelry.

If you understand the terms that jewelers use, you’ll be better able to evaluate a piece of jewelry and decide for yourself whether it is worth the price.

At the Store

  • Ask about the refund and return policies before you buy.
  • Check for the appropriate markings on gold, silver, and platinum jewelry.
  • If you’re buying pearls, ask if they are natural, cultured, or imitation.
  • Ask whether a gemstone is natural, laboratory-created, or imitation, and if the gemstone has been treated, if the change is permanent, if special care is required, and if the treatment affects the stone’s value.
  • Make sure your sales receipt includes any information you relied on when making your purchase, like the gemstone’s weight or size. Some jewelers may give you a grading report from a gemological laboratory.

When Shopping Online

  • Before you buy, do some research to make sure a company is legitimate, or shop with companies you know. You might check a store’s reputation by entering the outlet’s name and the word “complaints” in a search engine.
  • Get the details about the product, as well as the merchant’s refund and return policies, before you buy.
  • Look for a street address or phone number in case you have a question or problem. Call the number to test it. You may want to know if the seller is in another country.

How to Complain

If you have a problem with the jewelry you purchased, try to resolve it with the jeweler first. If you’re not satisfied, contact:

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) is an independent, non-profit organization formed to advance ethical practices in the jewelry industry. Call them at 212-997-2002.

If you bought the jewelry from a company located outside the U.S., file a complaint at

This article is part of a series: Buying Jewelry
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